No, this is not another installment of Steve Lang’s “Lease, Rent, Sell or Keep?” series. Wards Auto is reporting that Toyota facing a decision over whether to kill its Matrix hatchback when a new version of the Corolla on which it is based debuts sometime “before 2013.” Toyota’s Bob Carter tells Wards that
There’s no change right now on the car, (but) we haven’t made the decision yet
So, what to do? Toyota doesn’t break sales of the Matrix out from the Corolla, but according to Wards:
The hatchback reached its pinnacle in 2002, selling 66,836 units, Ward’s data shows.
Annual deliveries have declined since then, except for 2008, the second-generation model’s first full year.
However, Matrix volume plunged 47.3% to 26,121 in 2009, from 2008’s 49,567, and last year slid 44.5%, with only 14,492 deliveries.
Toyota’s Carter insists that the forthcoming “Prius C” compact hatch “attracts a different type of buyer,” an argument he’d probably also apply to the Scion xB, another Corolla-based hatchback. So, should Toyota develop a new Matrix along the lines of its predecessors in hopes that the third iteration brings back some magic to the nameplate? Or, would a re-styled xB make a better Toyota than Scion, opening up Scion’s lineup for a version of the Verso-S? Or perhaps Toyota could offer its European Auris as a Hyundai Elantra Touring-style contrast to the very American Corolla. Or, Toyota could look to the Verso for a larger, more utilitarian alternative to a traditional Matrix.
In any case, with so many possible options, it’s no wonder Toyota hasn’t made a decision yet…